Minesweeping activities will be among the 42 proposed steps that Japan would take to assist U.S. forces in case of war in Asia now that the ruling parties have reached a consensus.

The parties also agreed to restrict information to U.S. forces if it would directly benefit U.S. military attacks. The agreements came at a August 26 meeting on the ongoing update of the 1978 Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines.

The legislators failed, however, to solve several key issues, the thorniest of which is the scope of the geographical area surrounding Japan, but are continuing discussions to try to produce a confirmation paper.

Under an interim report issued in June regarding emergencies around Japan that could have an important influence on its peace and security, minesweeping would be conducted by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces in waters that are differentiated from areas where combat operations are being conducted.

Policy chiefs of the Liberal Democratic Party, Social Democratic Party and New Party Sakigake agreed that minesweeping should be conducted in three cases:

1) At the request of the international community;

2) When it is clear, under international law, that mines have been discarded at sea;

3) To secure the safety of Japanese ships.

The three parties also agreed that inspection of ships by the SDF must be based on a resolution by the United Nations Security Council and that the parties will clarify the conditions for such inspections that will be allowed under the Constitution.

The SDP disagreed on four points and added their own opinions. The Socialists demand that the guidelines define the geographical area surrounding Japan as not including the Taiwan Strait; the LDP and the government want to keep the scope of the geographical area vague. They also called for emphasizing that provision of weapons and ammunition to U.S. forces is prohibited by the Constitution.

Support for U.S. forces in times of emergency would include allowing U.S. forces to use civilian ports and airports. But the SDP demands that excessive use of civilian facilities should be avoided as much as possible.

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